Northern Ireland is a 'priority issue' for US says expert
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Joe Biden has been warned a hated Brexit deal is “none of his business” as the President holds talks with Liz Truss. The US President has been outspoken about the Northern Ireland Protocol, and warned the Prime Minister any changes to the deal cannot threaten the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Kate Hoey wrote that the Northern Ireland Protocol is “none of Biden’s business”, and added: “The US president should stay out of the affairs of the United Kingdom.”
She noted that Mr Biden had pictures taken with Rita O’Hare, Sinn Féin representative to the US, and wrote letters to the Senate on the behalf of the IRA.
In 1985, the future US President wrote on official Senate notepaper to reject attempts to remove the political exemption clause from the US extradition treaty with the UK in a bid to stop former IRA member Joe Doherty from being sent back to Britain.
She also referenced how after his inauguration in 2021, Mr Biden was asked a question by a BBC journalist, to which he responded: “The BBC? I’m Irish.”
Writing for Spiked, Ms Hoey then referenced Lord David Trimble, who was instrumental in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Lord Trimble, who died on July 25, regularly hit out at the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he said made him “betrayed”.
In a letter published in 2021, he said: “The protocol rips the very heart out of the agreement, which I and they believed safeguarded Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom and ensured that democracy not violence, threat of violence or outside interference, would or could ever change that.
“Make no mistake about it, the protocol does not safeguard the Good Friday Agreement.”
Ms Hoey then said it that “clearly, President Biden is not exactly keen on Northern Ireland remaining an integral part of the UK”, before saying “he is therefore no friend of the Union”.
She said: “PM Truss has not indulged his Irish-American fantasies and nor should she. He will be desperate to have a state visit to the UK next year to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast agreement.
“However, until the Protocol has gone there will be no restoration of devolved government at Stormont. Unionism is determined to stick to the mandate it received in the May assembly elections – that Northern Ireland can either have the protocol or an executive, but not both.
“The Irish government, despite its rhetoric, knows all this. It too wants Biden to visit the UK, preferably before Ireland’s next General Election.
“Now that the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill has been allocated an early date for a second reading in the House of Lords, President Biden, the EU and the Irish government should understand that the prime minister means business. Biden’s blarney wont work.”
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The Biden administration raised the Protocol with Ms Truss in her first bilateral talks with the President in New York on Wednesday.
In his televised opening remarks at the start of the meeting, signalling their significance, Mr Biden told the Prime Minister: “We are both committed to protecting the Good Friday agreement of Northern Ireland. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s on your mind.”
While the primary focus of the trip for Truss has been tackling Russian aggression in Ukraine, it raises concerns the new prime minister was letting the issue “drift”, despite her promises.
It comes after the UK set a six-month deadline to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol row, by the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Government believes the date in April 2023 is a key moment to get the Northern Ireland executive up and running again, with unionist parties blocking the power-sharing institutions as part of a protest against post-Brexit trading rules.
A Westminster source told the Telegraph: “What we want to do is protect and restore the Good Friday Agreement.
“And both of us [Britain and the US] are looking at the 25th anniversary next year as a key decision point, but the big obstacle to that being the lack of an Executive at the moment.
“The 25th anniversary is a key pivot moment, which is Easter next year. If you don’t have an Executive Assembly by then, that’s pretty bad all round.
“It’s an important place in the electoral cycle, for the Biden administration as well… So that’s the kind of primary focus which is an absolutely shared focus.”
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